NATIONAL HARBOR, MD. – It was as close as one could come to making an endorsement without actually mentioning any names.
Conservative talk-radio star Mark Levin has not officially endorsed any presidential candidate, but he left little doubt he supports Sen. Ted Cruz without ever explicitly saying so.
Levin also managed to blast GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump without ever mentioning him by name, while speaking at CPAC, the annual gathering of conservatives just outside Washington.
Levin did that by praising former President Ronald Reagan as someone who was “not a recent convert to conservatism,” but a “long-time advocate” who was part of the decades-long effort to invigorate the conservative movement.
It was clear Levin was contrasting that record with Trump’s.
The front-runner often cites Reagan as an example of someone who, like himself, converted from liberal to conservative, but many on the right question Trump’s sincerity and commitment.
Many also question what Trump calls his flexibility but his critics call flip-flopping, and Levin remarked, with Reagan, “there was no confusion about where he stood.”
Trump has also touted his skill as a great deal-maker as perhaps his strongest asset.
But Levin made a point of asserting that Reagan “was not elected because he was a great deal-maker – he was elected because he had solid conservative principles.”
Levin noted Reagan would not sacrifice his conservative principles when negotiating with Congress, and, if he had to, he would bypass legislators by going over their heads and appeal directly to the people. That is a point Cruz has made repeatedly on the campaign trail and in the debates.
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In fact, Levin sounded much like Cruz in saying that the GOP should back a “true, known, unapologetic conservative” for president.
The radio star said if conservative voters would do that, they would be in the best position in three decades to win the presidency, and by a landslide.
“Obviously, it’s a daunting task to defeat the GOP establishment,” no less, win the presidency, Levin remarked, but he said it could be done with the nomination of a “real and principled conservative.” Those are the very words Cruz has been using to describe himself.
Taking sideways aim at Trump without calling him by name, again and again, Levin also insisted it was not enough to beat down opponents with what he called crude and ruthless attacks.
Levin insisted, as had conservative guru William F. Buckley, that to win, “you must get behind the most conservative candidate in this race.”
In a call to arms, Levin insisted, “Don’t tell me the conservative movement can’t win elections and doesn’t have power.” He cited the strength of the tea-party movement and credited it with changing the political landscape not only in Washington but across the country, noting the GOP not only controls both the U.S. Senate and the House, but also has the majority in the most state legislative bodies since the civil war.
Levin concluded by calling Obama “the most reckless and lawless imperial president in modern times, if not in American history” who employs a “hate-America first” foreign policy.